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Advice Needed for a 2.1 Setup for Music, $500 budget

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hey Head-Fi!


First post here, usually I post over on overclock.net, but I decided I need some expert opinions. I have a bit of a dilemma. I've come to realize I know next to nothing about creating a decent speaker setup. My max budget would be $500, but the lower the better. 


My background: I'm looking for a 2.0 or 2.1 setup to fill my small apartment living room. With sound being subjective, and everyone having their own opinion, I'm having a difficult time deciding definitively on a speaker setup. I wish this was as easy as, hey, look at the benchmarks, the Nvidia GTX 670 out performs the GTX 650, get the 670.


Another thing that confuses me is the inputs. I will most likely be playing music off my laptop or iPod. Will there be a problem with sound quality? How do I go about playing the music? Similar to AUX input in cars?


My proposed passive 2.1 setup:

-Polk Audio 45B Bookshelf Speakers (I believe these are the updated model of the Polk Audio Monitor 40 Series II)

-Polk PSW10 Powered Subwoofer

-Pioneer VSX-822K Receiver which has subwoofer output

Total would be ~$450-500


Proposed active setup:

Audioengine A5+ 

Total would be $~400


Thanks in advance, I really appreciate the help!!!

post #2 of 4
I'd keep my budget for the amplifier/receiver under $200 if $500 is all you have to spend. An Emotiva mini-X a-100 is an excellent power amp with volume control. However, you could look for an AVR. The advantage of an AVR like the Pioneer would be extra inputs, remote control, HDMI input (you could run computer sound directly to it), bass management for a subwoofer allowing different crossover points with the speakers, and the opportunity to upgrade to 5.1 later on. There are good deals to be had on AVRs from Craigslist. Sometimes Newegg runs deep discount specials. And accessories4less.com has good deals on factory refurbished/factory warrantied Onkyos, Yamahas, and Denons.

For speakers, either Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SEs (I have these), ARX A1bs. I would definitely take either one of these over the Audioengine A5+ and definitely a good step up over the Polk speakers you have listed. Then add a better sub later on when you can afford it. The Polk PSW10 is OK for $100 subwoofer, but no $100 sub is very good quality. Know also that you don't need to match the subwoofer with the brand of speakers.

If you have to have a sub right now, the Lava LSP12 is on deep discount for $170 and had an excellent following at its regular price of almost twice that. Would be far better than the Polk PSW10. The Lava is best paired with an AVR (not the Emotiva amp).
Edited by cel4145 - 11/8/13 at 7:44am
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

I've found the Pioneer VSX-822K for <$200, around the price of the Emotiva Amp. Still recommend the Emotiva over the Pioneer? How do I play music from the Emotiva Amp with a iPod?

And are the Polk speakers really that bad compared to the ones you recommended? 

post #4 of 4
How much better one speaker is than another is relative to personal tastes, but those speakers are a definite step up over the Polks which are budget entry level speakers.

You would have to unplug your computer and plug the ipod into the Emotiva. The Emotiva is probably a better "amp" than what the Pioneer has built in it, but the Pioneer has many other features that a straight power amp like the Emotiva does not. Probably a better choice for you.
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